Three years ago, Avi Karny switched from a nine-to-five office job to an all-hours outdoors one, and his life has never looked greater or greener!
The former chemical engineer, who is now the passionate owner of Energetic Greens – a sprouts and microgreens stall at Byron Farmers Market every Thursday morning, explains the transition.
‘I was working as a chemist at a cosmetics company and I just couldn’t handle the fluorescent lighting and white walls and the nine-to-five repetitive work,’ he says. ‘I wanted to breathe a little bit of air and just be outside.
‘I had been growing tomatoes for research purposes and I really loved growing plants. So when this business came up for sale it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out of the laboratory. Since then my life has become so much happier – and healthier.’
Avi says the leap from the laboratory into intensive farming was a big one, describing it as ‘a wild ride’, but it’s one he’s relished and finds incredibly satisfying – particularly given the local support for his greens.
‘I love working with our community who really appreciate the products. Since I took over the business, we’ve grown from planting about 8kg of wheatgrass a week to about 28kg. I have regular customers who come every Thursday for their fresh shot of wheatgrass and then we have a bit of a chat. It’s great!’
As well as the popular freshly juiced wheatgrass shots, which are renowned for their antioxidant properties, Avi grows a range of certified organic sprouts including sunflower, snowpea, broccoli and radish, and all have their own unique and distinct flavour.
He explains that microgreens are a phase of the plant at its peak nutrition: ‘Microgreens have a very dense nutritional component compared to the mature plant. For example, broccoli sprouts contain 10 to 100 times more nutritional value gram for gram compared to the mature plant. All microgreens offer very dense nutritional value in small amounts.’
As well as being used in salads, sandwiches and smoothies, the sprouts also make for a great (and healthy!) snack.
You can find Avi at Byron Farmers Market every Thursday morning.
Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays, 7-11am at Butler St Reserve, and Bangalow Farmers Market is Saturdays, 7-11am behind the Bangalow pub.